Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Has Change Arrived?

I wanted to read Letters to Mississippi because I'm greatly passionate about social justice. I have thrown my patrons I am currently waiting on out of the restaurant for saying racial remarks about a member of the back of the house staff, I have told teenage boys to show respect for themselves by showing respect to those around them (on the street while they were acting out in violence and I had never met them before in my life), and I have spent years and years trying to make some kind, any kind of difference in the world around me.

And though I understand we have come along way from the stories I'm reading about in Letters to Mississippi, I wonder have we come far enough along to discontinue the Department of Justice's need to approve local voting board decisions?

The supreme court today is hearing a lawsuit that basically says, we have a black president, we don't have a need for Freedom Schools any longer, integration is working, and we have found racial peace in the country. Well, I'm being dramatic, but the Plaintiffs, a county near Austin, TX, says the DOJ is now just being intrusive and this type of micro-managing is no longer needed in the small amount of states that this law relates to.

But is it true?

Florida is known as an election mess. 1965, the year the voting rights law was enacted, was only 45 years ago. That is seriously just a blink of the eye in the time line of racial inequality for this country. Stories have continued to surface about people of color being turned away at polling stations throughout the state, mostly in the panhandle and central counties of Florida.

My thoughts are that, yes, we have come a long way, but if our neighborhoods are still so racially segregated that in order to meet educational intregration laws we need to bus students from far corners of the county, then we are have not come far enough.

Here are two articles/opinion piece about the lawsuit: one and two

Another interesting legislative effort underway is the Obama administration is asking congress to consider closing the gap between jail time on crack and powder cocaine. This is an issue that has riled many social justice activists for years.

This morning on the train I was reading my book and a man in the row behind me began talking to me about it. He apologized for reading over my shoulder but we had a good conversation about just how little we have really moved as a country on racial equality. But an interesting part of the conversation was that I am a middle class white girl born in the deep south and he was a middle class person of color, not sure where he was born. We were having this conversation on public transportation in the district of Columbia. Two strangers of different race and genders talking about the breadth and depth of equality in our country. This wouldn't have been possible 50 years ago.


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